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Mitsotakis calls for ample light on Tempi accident, says elections will be held in May

Mitsotakis calls for ample light on Tempi accident, says elections will be held in May

Πηγή Φωτογραφίας: Αρχείου

He also revealed that the elections will definitely take place in May and not at a later date.

In his first interview since the tragic rail accident at Tempi, to the journalist Stavros Theodorakis on the programme “Protagonistes” on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis referred extensively to the train accident, saying it was a moment when the country came face-to-face with its “longstanding sins” and a “tragedy that should never have happened”. He also revealed that the elections will definitely take place in May and not at a later date.

“It is inconceivable to think that in Greece in 2023, two trains can be on the same track, moving in opposite directions, and no one realises. I believe that all the citizens have understood – in their anger and their rage – that in this accident are distilled the dysfunctions of many decades, which we now have an obligation, however, to deal with drastically,” the prime minister said. Answering a series of questions put by young people who were on the fateful train, the prime minister stressed that the young must also help to change the country and that he had heard the messages of the protestors, adding:

“We must all change together, it is not just an issue of leadership, which obviously has the primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of Greek citizens.” Mitsotakis also said that the accident had helped showcase the ability of the state mechanism to respond quickly and tackle urgent emergencies, namely the effort to save lives. He admitted, however, that it will take time for people to once more take a train without a second thought and feel safe, as the tragedy had made everyone feel that this could happen to them and to their children.

“I will make sure that we train a great spotlight and shed ample light on exactly what happened. Not just on the night of February 28 at Larisa station – this we have all more-or-less understood – but on how we got there. In other words, responsibilities. Justice is investigating them but we must also look into how we got to that night,” the prime minister said. Among others, Mitsotakis noted a need to raise salaries in the public sector, especially for senior administrative staff in positions of responsibility: “Let us agree that if we want a public sector that is truly productive, there must be people in positions of responsibility that may not have the same pay as the private sector but we cannot talk of humiliatingly low salaries.” He also stressed the importance of evaluation, saying this must be done fairly, effectively and swiftly.

Regarding Hellenic Train, Mitsotakis revealed that he will have a discussion on the issue with his Italian counterpart within the next few days to “find a new framework in which both sides will invest in the railways what they deserve”, with the state undertaking to improve the infrastructure and Hellenic Train undertaking to bring better trains, though he noted that higher speeds can only be achieved once the signalling system has been fully completed with safety. The prime minister also referred to the visit by main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras to the Larisa train station and the facilities there, stressing that a local monitoring system has been in operation there since November 2022 and criticising the “politicisation” of the incident.

“…society wants to be united and I believe is deeply disturbed by the politicisation of this incident…what Mr. Tsipras did in Larisa was a communications show,” he said, accusing Tsipras of going to an entirely different location and not the Larisa station, where the board was working. In the third part of the interview, the prime minister spoke about his intention to initiate a revision of the Constitution in the next parliament, while he announced that the elections will definitely be held in the month of May and no later, as there may be a need to hold repeat elections, which he would not want to hold in August or during the nationwide university entrance exams. He once again expressed opposition to the prospect of a coalition government, saying he supported a second round of elections that might deliver a single party majority as “the right solution for the country”.

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